Sunday, October 28, 2012


Welcome to a roundtable discussion of this week's episode of The Walking Dead from your friendly neighborhood LowBrowMedia savants.
This is a spoiler-heavy zone. You have been warned.

Magus: After last week's somewhat disappointing season opener, "Sick" picks up where "Seed" left off with Rick having chopped off a portion of Hershel's leg followed by the discovery of inmates still alive in the prison cafeteria. This pulls the show's attention back to the real threat following the walker apocalypse, human beings. Sure, the walkers are a threat to survival, but they don't plot or betray like humans can. The prisoners give Rick and the survivors their first set of truly hard decisions to make this season and unlike during the second, resolution comes quickly.

There are the naive power plays on the parts of the prisons that reflect their own ignorance to the severity of their situation. At first Rick and the group wants to kick them out but an agreement is eventually reached and the prison and its supplies are to be split. It's an arrangement that doesn't last long as the prisoner leader decides that he's going to try and take out Rick. It's a decision that doesn't end well for him or another of his fellow inmates. With their number reduced, the remaining two prisoners strike a new deal and are given a cell block of their own.

The other story of this episode could be a survival horror medical drama as the group works to save Hershel's life as no one is sure if he'll survive losing blood, his leg, and the walker bite. It's touch and go but he eventually makes it through. However, during his downtime,which thankfully is paced nowhere near as painfully as Carl's gunshot wound and recovery, the survivors are portrayed as possessing a great deal of medical knowledge, far more than I think Hershel would have been able to purvey in so short a time. Also during this downtime, the practical questions of what they would have to do without Hershel and his medical knowledge, especially with Lori and her pregnancy.

It turns out that Carol has become a sort of medic and prepares herself for the possibility of having to perform a C-Section on Lori to deliver the baby without Hershel. In a stroke of brilliance, she comes up with the idea to practice technique on the body of a female walker to get better acquainted with the anatomy. It's an interesting solution to a very practical problem. During Carol's sequence with the walker, we see that someone else is watching the survivors from the other side of the fence.

Some nice trimming to this episode is Carl proving himself to be worth more than just walker bait as he manages to find the infirmary and bring back medical supplies that ultimately save Hershel's life. Of course Lori is there to chastise him for his recklessness. Lori gets hers in the end as she and Rick have a private one on one where she says things that makes me believe she's been reading the memes about her on the internet. Rick leaves her with some confusing lines, not clarifying just where their marriage stands.

This episode moved in a much better direction than the opening and I'm happy with how they're stepping up the pace. I was worried Hershel's leg was going to become this season's Sophia, eating up time that could be better spent with the characters. Rick got some time to shine as a strong leader by proving he'll do what it takes to keep the group alive and safe. This episode was much stronger for the characters and hopefully the show will keep moving in this direction.

Jon:  Sorry, everyone. I'm running behind this week. My two cents will be added on this episode soon though! (updated: 10/29/12) -- Magus, you nailed it. The real horror of The Walking Dead-verse are the other survivors, not the zombies plaguing the land. And it makes me so happy the show is getting back to that concept, one it didn't ignore last season but surely did not emphasize either. As, as we'll see soon enough, a handful of isolated prisoners are the least of their worries.

"Sick" was pretty action-laden episode (as Magus described above), and because of that there's only so much I'm able to delve into.

What we do need to talk about for a few moments, however, is Rick's continued slide into dictator mode. That's probably not the best term to use for it since "dictator" comes along with such negative connotations, but the forceful decisiveness is exactly what this group of survivors needs right now. And, at least for the moment, the others seem content with deferring to his judgement. After the experience on the farm where he tried to let others have a say, one can hardly blame him for wanting to take control when his decisions led to far better results than the others' had.

All that said, I was still very surprised by just how quick and resolute his decision-making has become. The lead prisoner was certainly going to be a problem, but based on the show's precedent, I figured he'd be causing trouble for another week or two. However, after a hard seven or so months on the run since last season ended and the refocused Rick emerged, that now appears to be a foolish assumption on my part. This version of Rick has no time to let a bad seed flower.

His ability to make a hard choice definitively finally bled into his marriage with Lori, which at this point, seems all but officially over. If something is to happen to Carl, you gotta wonder if there'd be any way to bring Rick back from the brink. It's the right mode for him to be in in order to survive while out among the walkers, but I fear it'll be a very lonely place for him to stay in.

Aside from Rick's further journeys into isolation, I also loved the little off-camera adventure Carl had to acquire some medical supplies elsewhere in the prison on his own. Last year, that jaunt of his probably would've eaten up about a third of an episode while just barely avoiding getting bitten at the end, so it's nice to see the show learning where to focus our attention on the plotlines that are actually interesting.

Since I was behind this time, I've already seen episode number three on the season at this writing and, man... ya'll are in for a treat. Be sure to hit us up later this week; it was my favorite episode of the series in a very long time, so there'll be plenty of great discussion to go around.

Previous roundtables for The Walking Dead season 3: 
Week 1 - "Seed"

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Welcome to a roundtable discussion of this week's episode of The Walking Dead from your friendly neighborhood LowBrowMedia savants.
This is a spoiler-heavy zone. You have been warned.

Magus: I was fairly underwhelmed by the third season opener of "The Walking Dead". While the episode offered a great deal of action and gore, all of the interesting character development and reactions to Shane's death took place over the winter that was completely glossed over. From the opening, it seems that the survivors have been keeping on by jumping from house to house. Somehow they completely missed the prison we saw just behind them in the previous season's finale. Also, Lori is incredibly pregnant now. Also, T-Dog has more dialogue in the first fifteen minutes than he had in all of seasons one and two.

When they finally find the prison, they find it occupied by walkers but not so many that they can't formulate a plan and take the prison yard in short order. At this point we also learn that everyone has been taking target practice over the winter as each person delivers one head shot after another. Having cleared the yard they take a night to gather themselves and give the show what it has so desperately needed; a musical number. We are also treated to a scene of Carol's and Daryl's budding romance, or at least the closest thing either of them are capable of doing to resemble romance. There is no rest for the weary though as Rick informs them that the prison could be a veritable treasure chest of supplies and so now plans are made for taking the interior of the prison. After that, Rick goes off to take watch at the perimeter, alone.

What do you mean all they had was Extra Strength Tylenol?

Before that we learn the fate of Andrea and her mysterious rescuer, Michonne. During the winter they apparently have been doing the same as the other survivors and moving from place to place. However, Andrea has picked up some mysterious illness that is slowly turning her into deadweight and complete bitch to Michonne. But before we can learn too much, we're back at the prison as Rick and a small group take one of the cell blocks. Here we're treated to walkers in riot gear. Considering how difficult they are to take down with weapons, it makes me wonder just how they managed to get bit in the first place, unless they got bit first and then put on the riot gear.

In any case, with the cell block secured, everyone begins moving in and Carl shows some affections in the direction of Hershel's youngest daughter, Beth. Glen and Maggie, covered in gore, can't seem to keep their hands or mouths off of each other in their cell. As everyone else gets settled in and Lori has a conversation with Hershel about her fears of an undead baby, Rick wanders off to find himself a lone nook where he can be alone. We're back with Michonne as she delivers some much needed mystery medicine to Andrea and the two of them get moving, Michonne's walker pets in tow.

Now Rick has decided to lead a group into the interior of the prison in search of food and supplies. What follows is a standard maze with flashlight sequence that ends in Glen and Maggie getting separated from the group by walkers and a walker getting a leg up on old Hershel. After some impromptu surgery by rick with a hatchet, it's revealed that the dead aren't the only ones in the prison as we see several inmates behind chain-link.

God, I miss cable TV.

I know all of this sounds awesome and it was certainly an action-packed episode with lots of walkers and walker slaying, but it feels like we missed a lot of interesting character stuff with the winter having been skipped over. Also, it seems problematic that they were just wandering around in the same area without running into the prison sooner considering how close they were to it. The big thing for me is that the discovery they are all already infected, that they are all walkers just waiting to happen, should change the way these people relate with each other and the larger world. "The Walking Dead" are not the walkers, they are the humans left to live and eventually die. Maybe they'll get around to that this season. Here's hoping.

Jon: I may be in the minority on this one, but I'm gotta admit that was the most enjoyable episode of The Walking Dead since season 1. Magus, you're 100% correct in your assessments of where the show missed the mark, but I still have to give this episode props for turning in one hell of an upgrade over what we had most of last season. Gone is the farm, home of the long-winded, repetitive conversation. Now as they roam the open road, we check in on the gang on what we later learn is just another unsuccessful home invasion they engage in as they remain just one step in front of the zombie herd. Hopefully this season will give the smaller band of characters more conflict from without and within. Look, I have to admit I don't particularly like any of these characters on a personal level, so I really enjoyed the wordless cold open as much as for not having to listen to them blather on too long about something uninteresting as I did the general bad-assery.

Okay, that's not true. I like the Maggie/Glenn pairing and root for the two of them to not get mauled by walkers. Plus, I'm very happy the show has allowed Maggie to graduate in it's time jump to bad-ass woman of the group now that Andrea's separated from them. I found her to be far more effective as the ass-kicking female of the team this week than Andrea ever was. But we also saw she's plenty unsure of herself still and scared of these zombies as much as ever.

Meanwhile, after a steady downward spiral in character choices, I really like the direction Rick is taking. He's not completely in my good graces yet, but I for one respect his tyrannous leadership of the the group that he implemented at the end of season 2. When all they scrounge up to eat is a skimpy owl and two cans of dog food during that abandoned house raid, Rick hurdles the dog food away from Carl. Even as desperate as they are for food, he's not ready to reduce them to eat that food source yet. Impracticable? Sure. But that's the kind of attitude they need to keep their spirits up, not that any of the rest of them really seemed to be inspired by it in the moment. Meanwhile, he's finally listened to America and has completely become fed up with Lori as the rest of us are. Bravo, Rick!

Speaking of Lori, I enjoyed her conversion with Hershel in the prison cell. Just the mere mention of a zombie baby devouring her from the inside was enough to give me the serious willies for rest of the night. So much so that I didn't even realize how preposterous that scenario would be until a couple of days after the episode premiered. I know it's possible, but it's certainly rare for a newborn to have teeth at birth, not to mention the lack of muscle strength and Freddy Kruger-esque fingernails, necessary to enact the type of damage Lori was freaking out about. But I sympathize with her in this case; she's surrounded by death and Rick no longer appears interested in comforting her any longer, just securing her safety. But she's placed no higher on the safety list than any one else in the group.

Having not read past the first trade of the comics, I have no idea what's in store with Micchone, but if the massive freakout on my Facebook feed after her introduction at the end of last season was any indication, it's going to be fantastic. How Andrea plays into things with Micchone and when the two of them meet up with the remainder of the group are high on my list.

So even though there are still plenty of flaws with The Walking Dead, I think we're seeing subtle changes from the new creative team (post-Frank Darabont) that point to some serious improvement over last season. In any event, we'll be here each week recapping the show, so stop back in for a reminder of what happened the previous week before you sit down to watch the new episode each Sunday.

If you liked our The Walking Dead review this week, we've also been taking a look at the most recent seasons of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Check them out!

Aw, hell naw!